“I was scared” – producer speaks out over farm invasion

A farmer whose unit was invaded by 200 activists has spoken out about the impact the incident had on her family and the welfare of her animals.

Sylvia Hook described how she was ‘minding my own business’ at her Lincolnshire farm on Saturday morning when was confronted by 200 people all wearing uniform and, in many cases, masks. The ‘completely bombarding this place’, she told the BBC Look North programme.

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“I was really, really frightened. I was scared and I was incredibly intimidated,” she said.

Around 100 activists staged a sit in for eight hours inside one of the farm’s farrowing sheds. Sylvia explained how this caused multiple problems and prevented the pigs being properly cared for.

“The sows were very stressed initially with all the noise and the commotion, jumping up and down, squashing piglets, causing general havoc,” she said. “They were picking up piglets up, cuddling them – there was a lot of screaming going on. Piglets don’t want to be cuddled. Then unfortunately, they were putting the piglets back in the wrong pens.”

Because it was such a long period of time we were not able to fulfil our caring duties to the animals. We could not get in to feed them as our barrow is the width of the passage.”

The activists claimed they found a dead piglet. Sylvia said she could ‘categorically state’ that it had been fine before the activists arrived. She said it was likely that a stressed sow stood on it, possibly because it had been put in the wrong pen.

Dead piglets found elsewhere on the farm were stillborn – but the activists had prevented staff from removing them, she said.

She highlighted that the farm was Red Tractor-assured and regularly audited and showed the BBC inside one the farm’s straw-based sheds.

Chris Hines, from the campaign group Meat the Victims, was also interviewed. The sense that the action is increasingly resembling a major PR blunder was reinforced as the interviewer challenged him on what the group expected to achieve by ‘trespassing’ on a legitimate business that was regularly audited and that even one of the protestors described as clean and tidy.

He denied that the activists caused the animals stress or that they were responsible for the death of any piglets. He said they wanted to highlight the reality of a ‘typical pig farm’. He refused to apologise to the farmer, saying they should apologise to the animals instead.

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About The Author

Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.